December 11, 2018
Training and Development 09 August 2018
Professional Development Isn't A Choice - SHRM 2018
Jazmine Wilkes
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A little over one month ago, approximately 15,000+ HR Professionals met in Chicago, IL to participate, learn, and network during the Society of Human Resource Management Conference, better known as SHRM18. During this conference, I really learned the value of professional development and just like the title of this article states, it’s not a choice. 

HR professionals are pushed every day to learn something new, to grow in our skills and knowledge of this profession. Experience in HR is really important, it’s nothing to be taken for granted. Professional Development was, of course, discussed in multiple ways during the conference, but a few really hit home for me. 

Impact of Development on the Workforce

Jennifer McClure had an amazing session on Sunday. She discussed the changes HR Professionals are going through and what we need to do to re-invent the profession. It’s no secret that HR has been taking a major hit in the last few years. Looking into what we should be doing to show our employees, companies, and even the world, that HR isn’t always the bad guy. 

"HR leaders are positioned to significantly impact their businesses if they can unlock the potential that lies within the workforce. The best HR leaders will be thinking about the skills that their workforce will need in the future, and putting programs and processes in place to develop or acquire those skills." - Jennifer McClure 

Jennifer McClure gave great information to a room full of HR Professionals (and an overflow area) on why the future of the workforce will not be as it is now. Everyone doesn’t need to be a full time, in-office employee. More employers need to realize this, try it out, give employees the choice. If you have a great culture and workforce, nothing will lack, but in fact, your company will probably improve because of the freedom you’re giving your employees. 

We are in HR to help others and to grow leaders. How can we do this, if we’re turning down every idea they bring to us?


Impact of Development on Self

Why is Professional Development so important? It shapes you to be the HR Professional that you want to be! 

Adam Grant was another great speaker during his Keynote on the Monday of the conference. Adam spoke a lot about believing in the dreams we have for our career and not allowing others. or even ourselves, to keep those dreams from coming true. 

“In order to sing your song, you must hear the tune in your head. You are the one who wrote that song” - Adam Grant

Everybody is responsible for their own careers and achieving personal dreams. Learn to take ownership of your own development by finding ways to grow and learn new skills. 

Attending conferences around the world is a dream of mine. I want to be able to experience and learn from multiple HR Professionals, not only the ones in my state. That is a small dream, but one I want young professionals especially, to understand. Big change comes from big growth. 

For me, starting a blog has led to so much more! Had you told me this was even possible when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I would have thought you were crazy. Getting started doing something you’re scared to do can lead you to completing those dreams.

From this small idea, I’ve started attending more conferences, applying for scholarships, reaching out to more HR Professionals in different areas than I am currently. It’s easy to find ways to advance your career, but just like job searching, you must be diligent in the search. 


Getting started with Professional Development

Professional Development is not all about earning a certification or getting that master’s degree. If these are dreams of yours, don’t allow anyone to stop you from achieving it, but also realize that those things are very expensive. There are plenty of ways to continue Professional Development in your career. Many companies, like SHRM, offer webinars that don’t cost anything. You have access to the local SHRM Chapters in your area. 

Social Media has been huge in the last few years in connecting HR professionals. Blogs are another great way to connect and learn from other professionals, while these are our opinions, many do use research to provide their take on the profession.  

Professional Development is about pushing yourself and your career forward. 

Every session I attended at SHRM18 taught me something and that is why I love attending the conference. We have over 17,000 HR Professionals in the world and many more are coming into the field. We make a difference in our employees lives by the things we can learn

Adam Grant and Jennifer McClure are two well-known speakers, but that’s not only what professional development is about, and they aren’t the only people HR Pros can learn from. Your coworkers, your boss, state HR Professionals, organizations, and companies are all avenues for us to continue our Professional Development. 

Right now, I’m doing a lot of research on state and local laws. HR isn’t solving an argument between two employees, no matter what people think. We must be knowledgeable about what is going on in the world and in our community. Providing the benefits that our employees not only want but need starts with understanding where they are in life. It’s about change and that’s exactly what we should be doing. Changing for the better not only for our company, but also our employees. 

Professional Development isn’t a choice, what will you do to continue your educational journey of knowledge in Human Resources?


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An HR Assistant learning the ways of everything HR. Jazmine describes herself as an “HR Millennial Trying to Get It Right”. A rising star and young professional, you can read her take on HR on the HRJazzy Blog